Historical D.C. Metro Map
Since its opening in 1976, Washingtonians have had a love-hate relationship with our Metro system. Over the years, the system has been praised for its role in connecting neighborhoods in our region and spurring development. At the same time, DMV residents have been critical of delays, reliability and increasing fares.
However, our bone to pick is with the actual names of the stations. Frankly, they’re quite boring. Given the rich history of our area, there are lots of good alternatives. So, we've created a new (or, rather, old timey!) Metro map inspired by historical events and sites rooted in the neighborhoods that surround each station. Hop aboard! Take a ride and learn a little something about your commute as we make bland names like “Branch Ave” and “Huntington” a thing of the past.
Tired of clicking? See list of all new station names »
Better known as: Addison Road/Seat Pleasant
Okay WMATA, here’s a compromise: keep the “Addison,” change the “road.” Addison Chapel is one of the oldest standing ecclesiastical structures in Prince George’s County, and one of the thirty original Maryland Parishes. It was originally constructed in 1696, though the current chapel was most likely built after the Revolutionary War. If you’re wondering where the name “Addison” comes from, it's Colonel John Addison, owner of the Oxon Hill plantation and, not so surprisingly, a prominent figure in the Anglican Church.
Frederick Douglass House
Better known as: Anacostia
Douglass has often been referred to as the “Sage of Anacostia.” He moved there in 1877 when he was appointed the first black U.S. Marshal of D.C. He wanted to live in Anacostia, but it was segregated, so there were certain areas where he wasn’t allowed to live. If you read our entry about Van Ness/Hanukkah Heights on the Red Line, you’ll remember that this discrimination was made possible by restrictive covenants, a practice where property owners could choose who could or could not live in their neighborhood. Famously, however, Douglass defied the neighborhood’s restrictive covenant and purchased the house. Before he died in the house in 1895, Douglass built upon his legacy of fighting for the rights of both women and African-Americans and served as the U.S. Minister to Haiti.
- Frederick Douglass's Career in D.C. Government
- First Statue Representing D.C. Unveiled in U.S. Capitol
Better known as: Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter
During the 19th century, Center Market was a nationally renowned place to shop. Designed by Adolf Cluss (who also constructed Eastern Market) in 1872, it was largest market hall in the entire nation. It had a floor space of over 57,000 square feet, three wings with 666 permanent market stalls, and thousands of visitors each day. However, by the 20th century chain stores and supermarkets were sweeping the nation, and the importance of markets like Center Market was in question. The answer: not important enough. In 1931, Center Market was destroyed to make way for, if you couldn’t tell by the current name of this station, the National Archives.
Better known as: Arlington Cemetery
The hundreds of thousands of graves at Arlington National Cemetery each offer a story of their own, which would be worthy of a Metro stop name. However, our proposed name turns back the clock to the days before the cemetery was established. In what many Unionists at the time considered to be an act of poetic justice, the federal government established “Freedmen’s Village” in 1863 on land where Robert E. Lee had lived for 30 years prior to the Civil War. (The estate belonged to his wife’s family.) The encampment served as a place for 1,100 African-Americans – most of whom were recently freed slaves and runaways – to live and work. However, life in the village was far from perfect. The citizens worked for $10 a week (of which they kept $5), had very little space, and had to survive on military rations. By 1900, the village was closed down and its residents were relocated.
Better known as: Ballston-MU
Ball’s Tavern may be an aspiration for the Ballston Mall when it ultimately reopens. Built in 1774 by a grandchild of the Ball family (the original founders of Ballston) as a two-story log inn, the tavern was a social hotspot for the community, but it was more than just a meeting space. Over time, the tavern also operated as a general store, a post office, and a local voting precinct.
Better known as: Benning Road
In 1851, a free black man named John Payne opened a cemetery primarily for African-Americans. During the 1800s it thrived (to the extent that a cemetery can thrive), recording 14,000 burials between 1880-1919. Unfortunately, though, it was poorly run, and by 1966 had been closed down and abandoned until ultimately becoming the site of the Fletcher-Johnson School. However, keep going east on this new Blue Line and you’ll see that the story of Payne’s Cemetery didn’t end here.
Old Stone Tavern
Better known as: Bethesda
Civil War buffs may be familiar with the battle of Fort Stevens in July of 1864, but few know of a skirmish that occurred along the way: The Battle of Bethesda. The Confederate forces were moving south on Rockville Pike, while the Union forces were moving north, and the two sides met at the Old Stone Tavern. Shots fired from the early morning until the Union troops pulled back at 3 p.m. Since Bethesda was little more than a country crossroads at the time, very little was destroyed. In an unintentional ominous twist, the site of the Old Stone Tavern is now a funeral home.
Better known as: Braddock Road
There must have been something in the water fountains at George Washington High School in the 1950s. Between 1953 and 1961, GW (now a middle school) was the home of soon-to-be superstars Cass Elliot and John Phillips (Mama and Papa of the Mamas and the Papas) as well as Jim Morrison. After graduating, however, Morrison tried to distance himself from Alexandria. When he did return to play with The Doors in 1967, it was a disaster. After throwing a cymbal into the audience, he yelled “Hey Alexandria!” and walked off stage, offering the crowd a one finger salute.
Better known as: Branch Ave
Well, we’re sorry you slept past your stop. Now that you’re here, though, you might as well learn a little bit about where you are. This station is in a community called “Camp Springs.” The land was originally settled in the mid-1800s, and by 1860 it was a thriving town with numerous stores, a blacksmith shop, a school, a Methodist Church, and residences. Though its original name was Allentown, locals referred to it as “Camp Springs” because it was a popular resting place for Fort Meade-bound soldiers who thought the town’s abundant springs made for a comfortable camping place.
Better known as: Brookland-CUA
In 1846, a Massachusetts newspaper wrote of “a magnificent Catholic church [to] be built at Washington, D.C. after the manner of the great cathedrals of the Old World.” Now, over 170 years later, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (we thought Basilica might be a catchier name) is the tallest habitable building in D.C., the largest Roman Catholic church in North America, and one of the ten largest in the world. Since its completion in 1961, the Basilica has hosted three popes, nearly one million annual visitors, and holds the largest collection of contemporary ecclesiastical art in the world. So, unless your allegiance lies with medieval ecclesiastical art, you’ll probably support this name change too.
Better known as: Capitol Heights
D.C. native Marvin Gaye left his footprint all over the city, and there’s even a map highlighting where. One of these spots was the Capitol Heights neighborhood, where the Gay family moved in 1954. He lived only a few hundred feet from where the station sits today and made lasting impressions on the neighborhood. It was at the nearby Watts Branch Playground (now, appropriately, Marvin Gaye Park) where Gaye gave his first public onstage performance, an a cappella concert with his friends. This probably wasn’t where Gaye was discovered, but in the years to come he would go on to record numerous Top 10 hits, win a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Better known as: Capitol South
Ah, Capitol South. A name that teaches us a lot about the station’s position relative to the Capitol, but not much else. For instance, did you know that one of the first African American schools in D.C. once stood a couple blocks from the stop? In 1807, former slaves George Bell, Nicholas Franklin, and Moses Liverpool established the Bell School to educate some of the 494 free blacks in D.C. The Capitol Hill area was a popular spot for schools during the 19th century, and another African-American public school, the Lincoln School, was located at this same spot on 2nd St. S.E in the 1860s. It is likely, though not confirmed, that Bell and Lincoln were just different names for the same school.
Better known as: Cheverly
“There’s a Metro stop in Cheverly?”
Yes, though that question might be appropriate seeing as Cheverly has among the lowest ridership of any stop on the Metro. In fact, there may even be a house that the people of Cheverly recognize better than their own Metro stop. In the 1830s, the Magruder family owned a 716-acre tobacco plantation that is now the town of Cheverly. There stood a house on the plantation called “Mount Hope” which, after being renovated between 1919 and 1922, was occupied by Cheverly founder Robert Marshall. The house is so important to Cheverly that it appears on the official town seal and town flag and has been the town’s official symbol since 1931.
Better known as: Clarendon
Before there was the Eden Center, there was Little Saigon. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, Clarendon became a big destination for South Vietnamese refugees fleeing communist rule. For about ten years, Little Saigon was a place for immigrants to enjoy foods, styles, and customs that connected them with their past. Ironically (in terms of the naming of this station), what brought about the fall of Little Saigon was the Metro. When the Ballston-Rosslyn corridor began to be redeveloped in the 1980s, landlords raised rents and most Vietnamese shopkeepers had to close or relocate.
Better known as: Cleveland Park
Though many associate Cleveland Park with the Park and Shop — the first strip mall on the east coast — the neighborhood was trendsetting in other ways, too. In the early 1800s, the area was home to one of the first commercial vineyards in the United States, thanks to John Adlum who established a vineyard devoted to the production of American wine from native grapes. While Thomas Jefferson gave Adlum’s wine rave reviews, others weren’t so keen on it. Adlum‘s mature wines never really took off and he died a relatively poor man. Nonetheless, his groundbreaking work with the native Catawba grape earned him the title “the father of American viticulture.” Adlum’s appropriately named estate, “The Vineyard”, was eventually carved up and developed but you might be able to spot a few wild vines along the Melvin C. Hazen trail.
Better known as: College Park-U of MD
The history of Lakeland is one of racial tension, struggle, and fish. Back in the 1890s, Prince George’s County was overwhelmingly white. Developer Edwin A. Newman had recently designed the neighborhood of “Lakeland,” a resort style suburban community. Its affordable housing and the concurrent Great Migration brought many black families to Lakeland, though they lived on the east side while the white families lived on the west, divided by the B&O railroad tracks. However, during the turn of the 20th century several black families decided to move to the west side. These families were not welcomed by their white neighbors, often receiving threats to their lives and property, and eventually the majority of the white families moved out. On a lighter note, Lakeland’s big claim to fame surrounds its relationship with the Baltimore Gold Fish Company. In 1905, the company built five artificial lakes in Lakeland to act as a massive breeding ground for goldfish.
Better known as: Columbia Heights
St. Elizabeths Hospital
Better known as: Congress Heights
The current name of this stop, “Congress Heights,” seems like a name you’d get when asking someone to describe Capitol Hill without using the words “Capitol” or “Hill.” Unlike Capitol Hill, though, Congress Heights is close to neither the House nor the Senate, so let’s make this station more local. The Government Hospital for the Insane was established in 1855 as the first federally operated psychiatric hospital in the U.S. Efforts to open the hospital were led in large part by Dorothea Dix, a major figure in mental health reform at the time. By 1916, some thought that the hospital could use a more pleasant name, so they renamed it “St. Elizabeths.” In its 160+ years of existence, the hospital has had a slew of famous patients including attempted presidential assassins (Richard Lawrence, John Hinckley Jr., and Charles Guiteau) as well as Ezra Pound and Mussolini (sort of).
- Mussolini’s Mysterious Stay at St. Elizabeths
- Ezra Pound's Stay at St. Elizabeths
- March 1981: The Tourist From Hell
- The Shotgun Stalker Terrorizes Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant, 1993
Better known as: Court House
You might not have known by the name, but there’s a courthouse here. However, before the courthouse was erected, the land was a Civil War fort. Fort Woodbury was part of a network of Arlington forts built by the Union Army meant to defend D.C. from Confederate forces. By 1865 there were 33 of these earthen fortifications, but Fort Woodbury was one of the first. For those interested in Civil War weaponry, the armament held 24-pdr guns, three 30-pdr Parrotts, four 6-pdr guns, and one 24-pdr Coehorn mortar. Additionally, there were 2 magazines and a fortified barracks.
Better known as: Crystal City
Crystal City is not a neighborhood one would necessarily call historically rich, unless you’re into the history of buildings with the name “crystal.” There is, however, a certain landmark in Crystal City which (sorry, pun intended) connects us to the past: The Long Bridge. Since the founding of America, there was a need to have a way to cross the Potomac to reach the disconnected part of the Capital, which is now Alexandria. The bridge opened in 1809 and, after being partially destroyed by British fighting, reopened in 1816. Congress purchased the bridge in 1832, and during the Civil War, it became heavily protected by the Union because of its easy accessibility to the White House. After that, the bridge had its share of successes and failures; it was damaged by floods, used as a railroad and an interurban trolley line, almost destroyed by fire in the 1960s, and today is memorialized as the site of Long Bridge Park.
Better known as: Deanwood
The neighborhood of Deanwood is itself pretty historic. It is one of the oldest neighborhoods in NE Washington, and evolved after the Civil War from former slave plantations. It is also one of D.C.’s earliest majority African-American communities, as well as the home of Washington’s first and only amusement park.
In 1921, architectural engineer Howard D. Woodson (among others) built the Suburban Gardens Amusement Park, which featured a roller coaster, Ferris wheel, pool, games, and a dance pavilion that hosted such artists as Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. Aside from being the only amusement park in D.C., it stood out for opening its doors to African-Americans at a time when other amusement parks, namely Glen Echo, barred them.
Better known as: Dunn Loring-Merrifield
This new Metro map has a lot of stations commemorating the Civil War, but any student of history knows that it was by no means the only war America fought during the 19th century. The town of Dunn Loring is home to a former 1,400 acre farm that became a training camp during the Spanish-American War. “Camp Alger” trained some 23,000 men and brought huge growth and prosperity to Dunn Loring. Among these men was Carl Sandburg, who is remembered in the area by “Sandburg Street.”
Better known as: Dupont Circle
Now, Xenu probably wouldn’t need to ride the Metro seeing as he has enough space ships to carry billions of people to Earth. But if he did, the least we could do is name the station less than half a mile from the original Church of Scientology after him. L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, lived in D.C. in the 1950s and founded the church in 1959. The building, a contributing property to the Dupont Circle Historic District, was also the site of the first Scientology wedding.
Better known as: East Falls Church
You’ve heard of West Falls Church, you’ve heard of East Falls Church, but you’ve probably never heard of South Falls Church. That is because it no longer exists today. In the late 1800s, a black couple named Mary and Charles Tinner bought land and established an African-American community in the southern part of Falls Church. Sadly, white Falls Church residents objected and, in 1887, gerrymandered around the Tinners' neighborhood, shrinking the size of Falls Church by 1/3. The black Tinner Hill community continued to exist outside the city limits and, in 1918, became the first rural chapter of the NAACP.
Better known as: Eastern Market
Like the Energizer Bunny, Eastern Market just keeps on going. Its history stretches back to L’Enfant’s original plan, where it was to be one of three markets in the city. It was originally built at in 1814, but after a fire and the Civil War, Washingtonians saw the property is little more than a “disgraceful shed.” In an attempt to save the failing institution, architect Adolf Cluss built a new Eastern Market in 1873 at its current location. With this new building, the market thrived, prompting the opening of North Hall extension in 1908. However, the opening of a supermarket across the street caused the North Hall extension to close down in 1929. Fast forward to the 1950s, and things were still pretty bleak; all other city markets (such as Center and Western) were closing, and by 1962 only two merchant stands at Eastern Market remained. The ‘60s proved increasingly tumultuous for Eastern Market after being declared a “menace to public health” in 1964, and it was a virtual ghost town after the ’68 riots. However, this still did not douse the eternal flame that is Eastern Market. In fact, actual fire couldn’t even end it; in 2007 a large portion of the market went up in flames. But since it’s reopening in 2009, it’s been doing just fine.
Better known as: Eisenhower Ave
Since President Eisenhower didn’t have a very strong connection to the area which is now Eisenhower Avenue, we think it’s probably safe to rename this station. Within the Eisenhower Valley lies the once forgotten Black Baptist Cemetery. It was established in 1885 but later abandoned. Fortunately, the area is now the site of African American Heritage Park, which has honored the cemetery by identifying 28 burial sites and re-erecting six headstones.
Better known as: Farragut North
A piece of diplomatic and architectural history, Shepherd’s Row consisted of three elegant row houses designed in 1873 by governor Alexander Shepherd. In the 1880s, they were the site of the Russian and Chinese embassies and later the homes of U.S. Congressmen. The houses were built right after D.C. passed new building regulations, but Shepherd craftily found ways to get around them. These loopholes served as a precedent for many other buildings in the District built afterwards. The houses were demolished in 1952.
D.A.R. Constitution Hall
Better known as: Farragut West
We Washingtonians sure are lucky to have not one but two stations with the word “Farragut.” But, if we’re willing let the Farragut fad fade (or at least contain it to the actual square), let’s use this station to commemorate D.A.R. Constitution Hall. The building, which was constructed in 1928 with the same trowel Washington used to lay the Capitol’s cornerstone, is a present-day embodiment of the mission the D.A.R. set forth in 1890: to perpetuate “the memory and spirit of the men and women who achieved American Independence.” The building has both artifacts from the nation’s history and a story of its own. However, not all aspects of this history are proud. Constitution Hall has a pretty controversial past of segregationist policies, most notably the decision to ban Marian Anderson from performing there in 1939. To visit a place that has been historically kinder to African-Americans, go one stop east.
Better known as: Federal Center SW
Continuing the tour (or starting if you’re coming from the east) of D.C.’s old red-light districts, welcome to Louse Alley! Back in the 1860s, most prostitution occurred in brothels that were managed by a madam, and one such madam was Mary Ann Hall. Hall ran one of the fanciest and most discrete brothels in the city, right in the heart of Louse Alley (near where the National Museum of the American Indian is today). Judging by her nearly $2 million estate and the $5,000 (in today’s dollars) bottles of wine found at an excavation of the site, it seems like Ms. Hall did quite well for herself.
Better known as: Federal Triangle
To most, “Federal Triangle” doesn’t sound like a great name for one of the most notorious red-light districts in 19th century D.C., but maybe “Hooker’s Division” does. During the Civil War, Union General Joseph Hooker consolidated much of Washington’s seedy business into this area, attracting thousands of “loose characters” as the Evening Star once put it. The area became more residential in the years following the war, and the prostitution was shut down with Progressive Era regulations put forth by Congress. Also, to debunk a popular myth, this is not where the word “hooker” comes from.
Better known as: Foggy Bottom-GWU
Foggy Bottom is one of D.C.’s oldest neighborhoods, so this name is actually pretty good from a history-lover's perspective. Way to go, WMATA! So, instead of trying to name the station for something other than the neighborhood, we’ll rename it based on the history of the neighborhood itself. The area now known as Foggy Bottom was purchased in 1765 by German immigrant Jacob Funk who bought the land and divvied it up. The village eventually came to be known as Foggy Bottom, but its residents liked to pay homage to its creator, and would colloquially refer to it as “Funkstown.”
National Park Seminary
Better known as: Forest Glen
As the Real DC Metro Map astutely pointed out, this area is neither a forest nor a glen. It is however, the site of National Park Seminary. The property was first a tobacco plantation and then a summer resort for D.C.’s elite in 1887. In the mid-1890s, it was sold to John Vesta Cassedy who turned the property into National Park Seminary, one of the most prestigious women’s colleges in the early 20th century. The school closed in 1942 and then served as a rehabilitation center for Walter Reed Army Medical Center. However, the location was not ideal, since the European and Japanese buildings reminded the patients of the war they had just left, and the Army stopped using the property in 1977.
Better known as: Fort Totten
Fort Totten is probably the most historical name on the current Red Line, but with this new map, we gotta step it up. Fort Slocum is, in our opinion, more impressive than Fort Totten. The third stop on the Red Line significant to the Battle of Fort Stevens, Slocum attacked Confederate forces with long range guns during General Early’s attack in 1864. Today, Fort Slocum has the only remnants of the earthworks (fortifications built from dirt) that defended D.C. during Early’s offensive.
Better known as: Franconia-Springfield
Springfield Town Center, home of the Springfield Mall. You might be thinking, “what historical character could a mall possibly have?” Well, it just so happens that the J.C. Penney at Springfield Mall was once the shopping destination of the royal family. During Princess Diana and Prince Charles’ trip to Washington in 1985, the British Embassy thought it would be a great idea for the couple to go on a shopping trip to an American shopping mall. It was the “most populist” event on their itinerary. After a tour of the store (and a discussion of whether single or double breasted suits were more flattering) the Princess of Wales ended up buying an eight dollar scarf, prompting a run on the scarves from curious onlookers.
Chevy Chase Arcade
Better known as: Friendship Heights
The shopping arcade was a precursor to the mall. While these arcades had been popular in Paris for hundreds of years, the first one in the U.S. didn’t pop up until the Chevy Chase Arcade in 1925. The structure was built by Louis R. Moss who constructed it in the Classical Revival style. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003 and still operates to this day.
Missing Soldier's Office
Better known as: Gallery Place-Chinatown
As indicated by the name, this part down of downtown D.C. tends to be classified by the nearby galleries and Chinatown. But go a couple blocks south and you will find the office where Clara Barton helped find over 22,000 missing Civil War soldiers. After the early 1900s, the building was uninhabited and its purpose forgotten. However, in 1996 an employee of the General Services Administration found over 1,000 Civil War-era artifacts during a routine inspection of the building. After careful examination, he learned that building was where Clara Barton had operated the Missing Soldiers Office during the Civil War. After two decades of work, the office is now open to the public and has been preserved to look just as it did when Clara Barton worked and lived there.
Better known as: Georgia Ave-Petworth
These days, most people get off at Georgia Ave in search of something new: a restaurant, a store, a desire to find out what “Petworth” is, but none of these say much about the area’s history. However, just a few blocks north of the station rests The Soldier’s Home National Monument, also known as Lincoln’s Cottage. This cottage, built in 1842, was a common resting place for Lincoln, but don’t let the name deceive you—it was also frequented by presidents Buchanan, Hayes, and Arthur. Still, the cottage is probably most notable for being the site where Lincoln wrote a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.
- John Wilkes Booth's Abduction Plot Gone Wrong
- Lincoln's Secret Weapon: The Telegraph
- Lincoln's Codebreakers
Better known as: Glenmont
On this last stop of the new Red Line we honor Aspin Hill Memorial Park, the second oldest pet cemetery in the nation. It originally served as the burial site for dogs that served during World War I, but today it contains over 55,000 pets from around the country. The cemetery has interred animals ranging from General Grant (“Petey”) from The Little Rascals, to seven of J. Edgar Hoover’s dogs. The cemetery also had the honor of cremating President LBJ’s beagles, Him and Her.
New Deal City
Better known as: Greenbelt
Even the Real DC Metro Map thinks this station should be named after the thing that brought it into existence. Greenbelt’s history dates back to 1934 and the work of the Resettlement Administration, a New Deal organization that sought to relocate struggling families to government planned cities. Rexford Tugwell, who headed the organization, hoped that these developments would both increase employment and offer relief for the housing shortage. He chose three locations across the country to develop: Green Hills, Ohio; Greendale, Wisconsin; and Greenbelt, Maryland (Greenbelt being the first community built). If you’ve noticed a common theme between these cities, it was intentional. In Tugwell’s vision of these communities, he wished for “a garden city surrounded by a greenbelt of trees and open spaces.”
Better known as: Greensboro
Today the land around Greensboro is an office park. Originally, though, it was the site of the original Fairfax Courthouse. In 1742, Fairfax County legislation required that a courthouse be constructed “at a place call’d Spring Fields,” which is considered to be the present-day intersection of Rt. 7 and Rt. 23. The courthouse stood at the “Spring Fields” location until it was moved to the more populous Alexandria in 1752. In 1799, the courthouse was relocated to Chain Bridge Road, where it still stands (as a museum) in the City of Fairfax.
Walter Scott Station
Better known as: Grosvenor-Strathmore
Grosvenor-Strathmore is the peanut butter & jelly of North Bethesda. The two are inextricably linked and, to many, a single entity. However, to effectively recognize this area’s historical value, we will peel away the Grosvenor peanut butter from this sandwich and investigate the Strathmore jelly, or jam as developer Henry W. Copp may prefer to call it.
In 1886, Copp purchased a plot of land in the present-day neighborhood of Garrett Park. Copp, quite the anglophile, wanted to build a suburban development reminiscent of an English village, so he decided to name all the streets after novels of English author Walter Scott. Some of these streets included Waverly, Kenilworth and, you guessed it, Strathmore.
Beacon Field Airport
Better known as: Huntington
Huntington is so far out on the Yellow Line you might wish you could take a plane from there. Well, for the first half of the 20th century, you could. Groveton used to be an important spot for air travel. It was the site of both Beacon Field Airport and Hybla Valley Airport. Hybla Valley, the first licensed airport in Virginia, was especially important during World War II, serving as a Naval Air Facility that trained military pilots. However, by the late 1950s, the end of the GI Bill, diminished interest in private flying, and growth of suburbia all contributed to the eventual closure of these airports, both of which were gone by 1959.
Better known as: Judiciary Square
If you’ve ever tried to kill a president, chances are you’ve spent some time at the D.C. City Hall. The first of these defendants was Richard Lawrence who, in 1835, unsuccessfully tried to assassinate Andrew Jackson and was tried under D.C. prosecuting attorney Francis Scott Key. In 1867, the courthouse held the trial of John Surratt, an alleged conspirator in President Lincoln’s assassination. Surratt was acquitted, but justice was served when President Garfield’s assassin Charles Guiteau was convicted at the courthouse in 1882.
Better known as: King St-Old Town
When you get off at King Street, it’s almost impossible to not see the Masonic Temple. And yes, the Masonic Temple is very cool, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the land on which it sits: Shuter’s Hill. While the Masonic Temple has been around for almost 100 years, the human history of Shuter’s Hill stretches back nearly 5,000. As early as 3000 BCE, Native Americans used it to send hunting and fishing parties to the valley below. By the late 1700s, the hill was home to a plantation that was also the site of a grand mansion. During the Civil War, it served as a union encampment. And though this purpose was never realized, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison wanted it to be the site of the United States Capitol.
Urban Renewal Center
Better known as: L'Enfant Plaza
Ever wondered what L’Enfant Plaza was before becoming a plaza? Well, even if you haven’t, it’s still pretty interesting. The D.C. Redevelopment Act of 1950 (one of the first urban renewal projects in America), destroyed 99% of the buildings in Southwest D.C., wiping out many predominantly black neighborhoods and forcing residents to relocate. The government’s hope was that, by tearing down these old neighborhoods, they could build more space for federal agencies and create new suburban style housing. L’Enfant Plaza was a large part of this urban renewal project and, if its massive commercial complexes are any indication, is a testament to its legacy.
Mighty Mo's Last Stand
Better known as: Landover
Until its closure in 2002, Landover Mall was the heart and soul of Landover, Maryland. Perhaps its biggest claim to fame is that it was one of the last locations to have a Hot Shoppes Junior, a famous but now practically defunct D.C. burger stand. The signature dish of Hot Shoppes Junior was the “Mighty Mo” burger. Even if you’ve never been to a Hot Shoppes Junior, you’ve probably had some version of a “Mighty Mo,” since many consider it to the inspiration for the Big Mac.
Ghost Town Center
Better known as: Largo Town Center
And for this last (or first) stop on the reimagined Blue Line: the old Capital Centre, a popular concert venue and the former home of the Capitals, Bullets, and Hoyas. Along with Stadium Armory, this stop should serve as a sort of “Ghost of Sports Complexes Past.” In its heyday, Capital Centre was the home of two championship basketball teams. In 1978, the Washington Bullets (now Wizards) took home their first – and, to this point, only – NBA championship. Six years later, Patrick Ewing and Coach John Thompson led the Georgetown Hoyas to the 1984 NCAA national championship. After closing in 2002, however, the Capital Centre was imploded and the site is now occupied by a Foot Locker and a Panda Express.
Better known as: McLean
Unlike most historical buildings, this house is famous because it was destroyed. The Maplewood-Villa Nuova estate was built in 1870 by architect John Shipman. In its century of existence, it housed famous residents like Brigadier General William McKee Dunn (of Dunn Loring) and Woodrow Wilson (though the latter has not been confirmed). However, it was after the house was destroyed that things got interesting. It was in perfectly good condition, so it was a mystery as to why anyone would want to demolish it. The running theory is that it was destroyed expressly for the purpose of not becoming a historic landmark. The logic was, if it was designated as historically significant, it would stay there forever and prohibit any further development of the land.
Mary McLeod Bethune Council House
Better known as: McPherson Square
It’s great to commemorate Civil War Major General James B. McPherson with a Metro stop, but consider two things. First, he already has a physical square named after him, and second, he didn’t really do anything particularly significant in the area around McPherson Square. Mary McLeod Bethune, however, is a different story.
Bethune, the child of former slaves and founder of Bethune-Cookman College, founded the National Council of Negro Women in 1935 to unify black women’s organizations and advance the interests of African American women. Her home on Vermont Ave (known as the “Council House” in her time) was the first D.C. headquarters of the NCNW. Today, the site houses archives featuring materials relating to the history of African American women.
Alta Vista-Trolley's End
Better known as: Medical Center
If you think of Bethesda as a suburban paradise, you have to thank the neighborhood that started it all. Alta Vista, built around the late 1800s, is widely considered to be Bethesda’s first “real neighborhood.” It was initially one of the subdivisions of the Maplewood neighborhood and intended to be the terminus of a trolley line that started in Tenleytown. The trolley eventually extended out to Rockville and closed in 1935, but the neighborhood has remained.
Better known as: Metro Center
Wow, a station named after its positioning in the Metro system. If it’s even possible to improve upon this brilliance, we’d like to call the station Murder Bay (though the D.C. board of tourism may disapprove). During the late-1800s, downtown was a dump. However, there was one neighborhood that was particularly awful. Murder Bay was known for its brothels, gambling, and crime. It was so dangerous that even the police tried to stay away from the area. The level of crime and violence was almost cartoonish. One Washington Post article from 1888 wrote, “Men were known to go into Murder Bay and were not heard of again until their bodies were discovered in the canal or found buried in ash dumps.”
Shaw Lily Ponds
Better known as: Minnesota Ave
Today, some people might use this station to visit the nearby Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens. But, 100 years ago, the land that is now Kenilworth Park was the property of Civil War veteran Walter B. Shaw. Homesick, Shaw had a number of wild waterlilies from his home state of Maine planted on the land. The lilies were a hit, and Shaw brought in more plants, eventually making the area a commercial venture called “W.B. Shaw Lily Ponds.” After Shaw died, the gardens were maintained by his daughter, Helen, until the land came under threat of condemnation in the 1930s. She advocated for the survival of the gardens and, in 1938, Congress authorized payment to add the gardens to the N.P.S.-run Anacostia Park.
Payne's Happy Ending
Better known as: Morgan Blvd
A (relatively) cheery epilogue for the abandoned Payne’s cemetery. As Payne’s was on the way out in the 1960s, a new cemetery, National Harmony Park, was just starting out. National Harmony was open to all races, though most of the people interred there were African American. In 1966, the cemetery graciously became the new site of about 2,000 graves from Payne’s Cemetery. This transfer, though, was not unique. In 1960, National Harmony accepted the graves of 37,000 people from Columbia Harmony Center, another defunct African-American cemetery.
Better known as: Mt. Vernon Square 7th St-Convention Center
In an attempt to help those poor tourists who get off here hoping to find George Washington’s home, we’re naming this station after a building that’s closer by and far more interesting than a square. Built in 1902, the K Street Carnegie Library was the first of five libraries in D.C. Additionally it was the first desegregated public building in all of Washington. Appropriately, the building now houses the Historical Society of Washington and it is undergoing a renovation to make room for a new co-tenant.
Better known as: Navy Yard
Don’t let the huge Budweiser sign at Nats Park fool you, D.C. is a city that likes good, local beer. And back in the early 1800s, they really liked beer. The Washington Brewery, the first in D.C., was founded in 1796 by Dr. Cornelius Coningham. It operated out of Foggy Bottom until 1805 when it moved to the Navy Yard (at the current site of Yards park) and remained there until it closed in 1836. Its existence sparked a brewery mania in the District; at one point, brewers were the second-largest employer in the city, after the federal government. Washingtonians also liked brewing because it made potentially dangerous water potable. (Perhaps an excuse to drink some more beers, but given the state of the city canal, maybe not). Prohibition put an end to D.C.’s brewing game, and brewpubs weren’t even legalized in D.C. until 1991, but in recent years, the city has seen a growth in craft breweries. So, why not celebrate the city’s first?
- D.C.'s Illustrious Brewing Past and Present
- Robert Portner and Alexandria's Pre-Prohibition Brewing History
Better known as: Naylor Rd
Founded in 1967 as the “Anacostia Neighborhood Museum,” the Community Museum is centered around local history. Specifically, it focuses on issues surrounding Anacostia and the African American history of Southeast. Though its focus is quite local, the site is actually part of the Smithsonian Institution. In fact, it is the only Smithsonian museum focused on the local community and is the home to artifacts from figures like Mary Church Terrell, Anna Julia Cooper, and Marian Anderson.
- Impressions of Washington: Mary Church Terrell’s Activism
- Eat Anywhere! Mary Church Terrell, the Lost Laws, and the End of Segregation in D.C. Restaurants
- Dr. Anna J. Cooper: MVP of D.C. Education
- Marian Anderson Actually Did Get to Sing at Constitution Hall
Better known as: New Carrollton
And for the last (or first) stop on the reimagined Orange line, it’s Terrapin Thicket! The city of New Carrollton wasn’t always populated by people, and for a time turtles ran the place. During Colonial times, people referred to the area as “Terrapin Thicket” because of the vast number of turtles that would go “cavorting in the marshy land.”
Better known as: NoMa-Gallaudet U
Some neighborhoods were destined for greatness. Truxton Circle was not.
With what can be best described as humble beginnings, this neighborhood is named after a traffic circle. After numerous traffic jams and car accidents, the City decided to destroy the circle in 1947. Unfortunately, the disappearance of the circle led to a near disappearance of the neighborhood. It was often lumped in with Shaw, mistaken for Eckington, and had no identity of its own. Many of its residents abandoned the neighborhood too; while Truxton Circle had a population of over 8,200 in 1940, by 2010 there were only 3,028 residents. So come on, let’s give Truxton Circle an identity again.
Better known as: Pentagon
Depending on how adventurous you were, the land that is now the Pentagon was either the place to be or the place to stay away from in the mid 1800s. “Jackson City,” as it was called, was home to a red-light district, complete with saloons, betting parlors, a racetrack, and brothels. Based on the area’s clientele, the neighborhood was nicknamed “The Monte Carlo of America.” By the early 1900s, though, Jackson City had cleaned up its act—perhaps by force more than choice. In 1904, a self-appointed “cleanup” crew known as the “Good Citizens League” took it upon themselves to burn down Jackson City’s institutions, later making the area available to become the site of Hoover Airport.
Better known as: Pentagon City
As its name suggests, Pentagon City is a neighborhood that is easily commutable to the Pentagon. But before the Pentagon, there was Queen City, a home for southern African-Americans displaced by the closure of Freedman’s Village. For many black families, this community was their first opportunity to own homes and establish a community of their own. However, they were vastly underserved by the county, which failed to provide them with running water, a nearby school, or a fire station. When building the Pentagon, the government needed a space to accommodate the vast number of commuters, and decided Queen City would be a perfect location. So, in 1942 the community was razed, and its citizens — many of whom had supported the war effort — were forced to relocate.
Westminster Abbey, USA
Better known as: Potomac Ave
While the architecture may be less impressive than the one in London, an important landmark close to this station is Congressional Cemetery. After opening in 1807, Congressional is considered to be the America’s first “true national cemetery.” Within fifty years of its opening, the property had interred three presidents, two vice presidents, seventy-five congressmen, and numerous high-ranking executive, judicial, and military officers, as well as American Indians. The high profile of its interred has famously earned the cemetery the nickname “American Westminster Abbey.”
Better known as: Prince George's Plaza
We figure WMATA must really like Auntie Anne’s pretzels or something, because why else would they have five separate stations share their name with a shopping mall? Either way, if you do wind up at Prince George’s Plaza, you will be bound to see some students from Northwestern High School, and if you do, ask them about their school’s history because it’s quite interesting. (Note: don’t actually ask them, that would be weird.)
Established in 1951, Northwestern High School has been the home to music legends like John Fahey, sports stars like Len Bias, and most notably, Jim Henson. It was at NHS where Henson took his first class in puppeteering and discovered his love for it. The school now honors the original Muppeteer with The Jim Henson Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, encouraging high school students that playing with puppets may not be so lame after all.
Better known as: Rhode Island Ave-Brentwood
Now this is a neighborhood worth celebrating. The land was originally purchased in 1815 by Joseph Gales Jr., owner of the National Intelligencer and mayor of Washington. He built a two-story house on the property in 1830 that served as a Union hospital during the Civil War. In 1887, George Truesdell bought Eckington, subdivided it, and built houses. Truesdell was very forward thinking; his houses were equipped with steam heat and running water that could be both hot and cold. In 1889, he put President Benjamin Harrison to shame by equipping Eckingtonians with electricity a full two years before it was installed in the White House.
Better known as: Rockville
Hungerford’s Tavern was, pun intended, revolutionary. In addition to being what people used to call Rockville, it was also one of America’s first “real taverns.” Built around 1750, it was a prominent social destination where Founding Fathers such as George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Patrick Henry would go to discuss and plot against the British. However, the tavern was not necessarily the safest place to speak out. The tavern keeper was a staunch loyalist and, one night, tried to murder George Washington.
Better known as: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
Before becoming D.C.’s most metro accessible airport, the land just a few hundred feet from the north terminal of National was the site of the Abingdon Plantation. It was originally built in 1695 by the Alexander family (as in the namesake for Alexandria, Virginia), but was purchased years later by George Washington’s adopted stepson, John Parke Custis. It was supposedly around this time that the first weeping willow in America was planted at Abingdon. During the Civil War, the property was abandoned when its then owners, the Hunter family, fled south. Today, the ruins of Abingdon are open to the public in a little park behind the airport.
Dead Man's Hollow
Better known as: Rosslyn
It’s nearly impossible to think of a name more menacing than “Rosslyn,” but a close second may be the neighborhood’s former name: Dead Man’s Hollow. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Rosslyn was notorious for murders, robberies, and suicides. It was definitely not a place you would want to be, but sometimes you’d have to go through there in order to get home, like many Virginians who sold their goods in D.C. As a result, these men would bring armed guards along to protect them and their money. As a 1906 Washington Post headline read, the neighborhood was a “Fearsome place,” with “Grewsome record” (sic) of “Bloody Happenings.” (Note: If a name like “Dead Man’s Hollow” gives you the creeps, we can also accept “Deep Throat’s Garage” as a nod to Rossyln’s Watergate history.)
Better known as: Shady Grove
“Oh no! I slept through my stop!” is the reaction most people have when arriving at Shady Grove. However, back in the late 19th century, Shady Grove’s home of Derwood, Maryland was a hub of the B&O railroad. Opened in 1889, Derwood Station (located at the intersection of Indianola and 355) was not only a commuter stop on the B&O but also a freight and baggage station and an office for handling agricultural and dairy products. The town of Derwood saw huge growth into the 20th century until Derwood station was set ablaze due to a fire at the nearby Schwartz’s flour mill in 1954. Sadly, the station was never rebuilt.
Better known as: Silver Spring
The fourth and final stop (or first if you’re coming from the east) relevant to the Battle of Fort Stevens. In 1842, Francis Preston Blair, an original founder of Silver Spring and organizer the modern Republican Party, built a 20-room mansion which he called “Falkland.” During the Civil War, Lincoln loved to visit the mansion as a place to take his mind off the fighting. Unfortunately, in 1864 the fighting came to Falkland when Confederate forces occupied and razed it right before, you guessed it, the Battle of Fort Stevens.
Washington Canal-America's Toilet
Better known as: Smithsonian
Like several of the other historical station names we are proposing, this one won't do a lot to attract tourists, but it's accurate nonetheless. In the 1800s, Constitution Ave used to be a canal that was, according to observers at the time, “the grand receptacle of nearly all the filth of this city,” emitting “70 distinct stinks.” After decades of being America’s Toilet, most of the canal was ultimately covered in 1880, and by 1931, the stench had disappeared for good.
Better known as: Southern Ave
Welcome to the most historic stop on the reimagined Green line! (At least in terms of oldest historical reference.) The land which is now mostly Oxon Run National Parkway was once part of the home of the Nacotchtank tribe, the largest of the American Indian tribes in the 17th century. Though not immediately obvious, “Nacotchtank” is the name from which “Anacostia” is derived. The Nacotchtank used the surrounding wilderness to hunt wild game and grow corn, squash, beans, and potatoes. Their position at the confluence of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers made the area an epicenter for travel and trade, and the Nacotchtank thrived until European explorers came and brought disease that devastated the tribe. By 1700, nearly all the Nacotchtank were gone.
Better known as: Spring Hill
When naming the new Silver line stops, Spring Hill was sort of an aspirational choice. While people in the area hope it will one day become a well-known community, as of now it doesn’t really exist as much more than a road. One real community near the station, though, is Odrick’s Corner. The neighborhood was named after Alfred Odrick, a former slave and carpenter who purchased the area in 1872. By 1879, the neighborhood had a one room school house named Odrick’s School. The community used the school in many ways—they held community meetings there, as well as the first services of the Shiloh Baptist Church. Though the schoolhouse was destroyed in the 1950s, the church still operates to this day.
Better known as: Stadium-Armory
R.F.K. Stadium has been the home to eleven separate Washington sports teams, but is now home to none. So, before R.F.K. vanishes from our memories completely, let’s commemorate how it came to be. In the late 1950s, George Preston Marshall, owner and founder of the Redskins, tried to move out of Griffith Stadium and build a new home for his team. He convinced Congress to authorize funding for a stadium, but there was a catch. You see, in 1961 the Redskins were the only team in the NFL to still be segregated. Since R.F.K. Stadium (then called D.C. Stadium) was built on government owned land and received government funding, Marshall had to comply with the Department of the Interior's demand that he end his ban on black players. He reluctantly did so, trading for future Hall of Fame running back Bobby Mitchell prior to the 1962 season.
Better known as: Suitland
You guessed it, this is quite literally the land of Suits. That is, of course, if by “Suit” you are referring Col. Samuel Taylor Suit, who purchased the land in 1867. Suit built a large estate for himself, which became a political destination during the late 19th century. Both Presidents Grant and Hayes visited the estate, but the property is most famous for being the site of the Alabama Claims in 1871. This meeting was a negotiation where British and American officials settled a demand to have the British pay for damages done to Union ships during the Civil War by the British-built confederate cruiser, the Alabama.
Better known as: Takoma
While Takoma Park residents may associate their community with Roscoe the Rooster, Takoma Park’s national claim to fame is their high level of activism. During the Civil Rights era, future Takoma Park mayor Sam Abbott led a campaign to stop federal highway construction through the community’s historic north Takoma neighborhood. In 1983, Takoma Park became the first municipality in the U.S. to become a nuclear-free zone, meaning they don’t do business with any company that makes nuclear weapons. Newspapers around the country have written about Takoma Parks’s activism, calling it “The People’s Republic of Takoma Park” and “The Berkeley of the East.”
Better known as: Tenleytown-AU
Situated at the highest point in D.C., Fort Reno was built in 1861 as part of a series of Civil War defenses. During the battle of Fort Stevens, Fort Reno was protected by wounded soldiers and Parrott rifles, the latter dangerous enough to keep Confederate forces from extending the attack to Fort Reno.
Nearly 100 years later, in 1961, the Government decided to use Fort Reno for a new purpose: a top-secret communications facility. It was disguised as a water tower, but in reality was meant to be a continuity of government site in the case of a missile exchange with the Soviet Union
Better known as: Twinbrook
In 1916, Robert Crew Wilkins, an executive of D.C. based “Wilkins Coffee Co.” built an estate for himself in Rockville to be used as a summer home. He sold the mansion to George Moss in 1950 who converted the space to a cemetery now known as “Parklawn Memorial Park.” Today, the cemetery holds over 5,000 graves and a diverse array of gardens including the Garden of the Last Supper, Menorah Garden, Islamic Garden, Baha’i Garden, and Zoroastrian Garden, to name a few.
Better known as: Tysons Corner
Most people today use this station to get to the mall, but it’s important to remember that, prior to the 1950s, Tysons Corner was actually a very rural town. Before it was “Tysons Corner,” locals called the area “Peach Grove” because of the abundant peach trees that grew on the land. One landmark was the Peach Grove post office, which, in the 1850s, was run by postmaster William Tyson. If “Tysons Corner” is any evidence, the postmaster’s arrival was indication that the neighborhood’s name would not be “peachy” for much longer.
Better known as: U St./African-Amer Civil War Memorial/Cardozo
The current name of this station, the longest of any Metro stop, looks like what would happen if you gave someone ten seconds to write down as many U St. destinations as they could remember. (Seriously, when have you ever seen the abbreviation “Amer?”) As a shorter (and more interesting) name for one of the most celebrated neighborhoods in D.C., we’re proposing “Black Broadway.” The name comes from legendary actress and singer, Pearl Bailey, who referred to the neighborhood as such in the early 20th century. For decades, the U St. corridor was a cultural mecca for the African American community, and a hotspot for entertainment. Legendary jazz musicians -- including Washington's own, Duke Ellington -- frequented the many neighborhood clubs, which included Bohemian Caverns, the Lincoln Theatre, the Howard Theatre, and others.
- Bohemian Caverns: Home of D.C.'s Jazz "In Crowd"
- Duke Ellington’s Education at Frank Holliday's Pool Hall
- A Washington Landmark: Ben’s Chili Bowl
Better known as: Union Station
Though it may be nearly impossible to improve upon this station’s inspired nomenclature, we will try... Welcome to Swampoodle! This neighborhood was originally created in the 1840s by Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine. All was good in the ‘Pood until the arrival of Italian immigrants in the 1890s. The Irish felt their neighborhood was being taken from them and this tension, along with the construction of Union Station, brought an end to Swampoodle. Another piece of Swampoodle history: the current site of Union Station was once Swampoodle Grounds, the baseball stadium of the Washington Nationals from 1886-89.
Bren Mar Park
Better known as: Van Dorn St.
Finally, the story of the Fairfax County Park Authority gets to be told. The FCPA was founded in 1950 with the goal of providing 15 acres of parkland for every 1,000 county residents. Their first big purchase was 15 acres in Great Falls, and in the next couple years the county went on to purchase eight more public parks. However, there was a desire to go more local, so the FCPA initiated a program to help acquire small parks in urban areas. In 1959, it purchased its first neighborhood park, Bren Mar Park, which still exists to this day. Not the most glamorous piece of D.C. area history but, hey, the current namesake for this station, Earl Van Dorn, was a Confederate general whose womanizing led to him getting shot in the head, so you choose what you want to name the station after.
Better known as: Van Ness-UDC
So is the station on Van Ness street? Nope. Well, is the neighborhood called Van Ness? Nope, it’s called Forest Hills. And, as it turns out, Forest Hills actually has a very interesting history. For the first half of the 20th century, restrictive covenants made it so builders, developers, and owners of real estate could refuse to sell to minorities. Neighborhoods throughout D.C. operated under these covenants, but Forest Hills was an exception. Since homes in Forest Hills were constructed by individual builders, the neighborhood was not under the jurisdiction of a single developer who could impose a restrictive covenant on the entire neighborhood. The inclusive nature of Forest Hills led to a huge inpouring of minority residents, the highest number of which were Jews. In fact, there were so many Jews, the neighborhood was nicknamed “Hannukah Heights.”
Better known as: Vienna/Fairfax-GMU
If you take away one thing from this new Orange line, let it be Fairfax County residents love a good story. In the 1930s, George Wedderburn built six diminutive small Spanish-style cottages on a wedge of land, which is now bordered by the W&OD trail to the north and Cedar Lane to the east. As tall trees grew up over the property, rumor spread that the cluster of homes was a community of dwarves. Over the decades countless Fairfax County teenagers ventured (illegally) onto the property in an attempt to verify the existence of so-called “Midgetville.” In reality, though the houses Wedderburn built were, indeed, quite small, the idea that the area was a community for little people was a myth. The homes were razed in 2008.
Better known as: Virginia Sq-GMU
It’s great to honor higher education, but the George Mason University Law School isn’t actually that old. So, instead of "Virginia Square: GMU," we think there's a better alternative for this station name. The Cherrydale Volunteer Fire House predates the university by several decades. Built in 1919, the fire house is home to the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department, the oldest volunteer department in Arlington County (established in 1898). The department has gained a reputation over the years for some of its unique fundraising methods. For instance, when the fire house was under construction, the fire company sold bricks. People would donate to the construction and, in return, the builders would place a brick in their name. Among those with a brick: President and Mrs. Wilson.
Better known as: Waterfront
If L’Enfant Plaza is the epitome of the 1950 urban renewal project, Wheat Row is a symbol of the opposition. Constructed in 1794, Wheat Row is a series of four houses named after Senate messenger John Wheat. They are D.C.’s oldest standing group of row houses, a feat that the government tried unsuccessfully to squash. Wheat Row was very much in the area that the government wanted to “renew” in 1950, but in the end the houses survived. Fun fact: it is rumored that Thomas Jefferson once dined at one of the houses.
Better known as: West Falls Church-VT/UVA
Another popular Fairfax County myth is that of “Hangman’s Tree.” During the Civil War, this large oak was rumored to be where Confederate Col. John Mosby (the namesake of West Falls Church neighborhood “Mosby”) would order his men to hang Union Soldiers as a means of retaliation. The legend is largely unsubstantiated and the tree was cut down in 1968, but a marker now stands at the site of the former oak to commemorate the story.
Better known as: West Hyattsville
A bit of Metro history: this stop was originally supposed to be called “Chillum,” but with a homerun like “West Hyattsville,” why would you think to name it anything else? Well, we might have a better option. One landmark of the Chillum neighborhood is (or was) its Giant Food Store. However, this wasn’t just any Giant; it was a royal Giant. The now defunct supermarket, which used to be off of Queen’s Chapel Road, opened back in the mid-50’s. In 1957, during Queen Elizabeth II’s first visit to the United States, she and Prince Philip took in a University of Maryland football game. On their way back to the White House, the motorcade made a surprise stop at the Chillum Giant; maybe President Eisenhower just didn’t feed his guests enough. The trip was very short, and while Prince Philip snacked on some cheese and crackers, Queen Elizabeth spent her time fixated on the child seat-equipped shopping carts.
Better known as: Wheaton
Maryland’s own city upon a hill. Wheaton is so high up that the escalator descending to the metro station is the longest in the Western Hemisphere (508 feet). Wheaton has a history of using height to its advantage. In 1928, Charles Francis Jenkins operated the first U.S. TV license out of his home on the corner of Windham Ln. and Georgia Ave., and Wheaton became the birthplace of the first television transmission. Wheaton is also quite popular in the world of radio; it is the home for the transmitters of WTOP, WGAY/WQMR, and WDON/WASH.
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Better known as: White Flint
Since the eponymous mall is now defunct, “White Flint” may itself soon be a piece of history. However, we found a site that might be more interesting: Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Located at 11420 Georgetown Road, the Riley-Bolten House rests on the farm where Josiah Henson lived and worked as a slave from 1795-1830. Harriet Beecher Stowe used Henson’s memoirs to develop the title character in her book that, according to Lincoln, started the Civil War. Seems pretty significant, but hey, if you’d rather name the station after a mall that once housed a Dave and Busters, be our guest.
New Carnegie Hall
Better known as: Wiehle-Reston East
What a great name to honor Reston’s most celebrated landmark: Wiehle Avenue. Seriously, though, now that there’s a stop in Reston, let’s use it to commemorate how the town came to be. Reston was created relatively recently by Robert E. Simon (whose initials, cleverly, make up the town’s name). He built it after the Second World War, making it one of the first post-war modern planned communities in America, important in sparking the revival of planned communities. If you’re wondering where Simon got the money to build Reston, it came from the sale of one of his family’s old properties: Carnegie Hall.
The Lost Cemetery
Better known as: Woodley Park Zoo-Adams Morgan
Walter C. Pierce was no different from any other community park until one May afternoon in 2001, when a group of volunteers picking up trash came across a bone that was shaped like a femur. After some metaphoric and literal digging, a research team led by Mary Belcher and Mark Mack unearthed a series of grave markers and eventually found that over 8,000 African-Americans, most of whom were slaves, had been buried underneath the park and forgotten.